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01.06.11

Links 6/1/2011: Beta of PowerTOP 2.0, Android Chosen by Almost Majority of Buyers

Posted in News Roundup at 6:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux Ease of Use: Designing The Ultimate Grandmother-Ready Computer

    When it comes to ease of use, there is no difference between a computer with Windows and a computer with Linux, assuming both systems are installed properly. That there is a meaningful difference is a myth perpetuated by Windows fanboys or individuals who have outdated experience with Linux. Also, the comparison that is often being made is unfair: One’s experience with a computer purchased as Best Buy or supplied at work, with OEM Windows already installed (see below) is being compared with a self-install of Linux onto an about to be discarded computer.

  • Server

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Google

    • Cr-48 Chrome OS netbook hacked to run Android 2.3 Gingerbread

      Hexxeh, who recently released a Cr-48 tool to boot any OS, including Windows or Mac OS X, has now successfully got Android 2.3 Gingerbread to run on his Cr-48 netbook.

      All we have right now is a single photo (above), but you can click it for a super-high-res (cellphone camera?) photo if you like. According to unnamed sources close to Hexxeh, it is indeed Gingerbread running on Cr-48, but beyond that we know nothing.

  • Kernel Space

    • False Boundaries and Arbitrary Code Execution

      In Linux 2.6.24, file capabilities were introduced, which allowed for the distribution or the administrator to set the capabilities needed for an application via modification of the application’s extended attributes on disk. The immediate application of file capabilities is to remove the need for suid-root binaries on the system. It can also be used however to reduce the capabilities used by a normal root-running daemon, by clearing the effective bit in the file capabilities.

    • Announcing the beta release of PowerTOP 2.0

      After two alpha releases, with really valuable feedback from testers, I’m now releasing the beta release of PowerTOP 2.0 to go with the release of kernel 2.6.37, which has some features that the new PowerTOP will use.

    • Iveland, OpenBenchmarking.org Launching From SCALE

      It’s official: Phoronix Test Suite 3.0 “Iveland” and OpenBenchmarking.org will be launching next month at the Southern California Linux Expo in Los Angeles, California.

      In the talk entitled Making More Informed Linux Hardware Choices by Matthew Tippett and myself, Phoronix Test Suite 3.0 and OpenBenchmarking.org will be officially unveiled and launched.

    • Graphics Stack

      • A Big Comparison Of The AMD Catalyst, Mesa & Gallium3D Drivers

        There has been much progress over the past year to the open-source ATI drivers and the Linux graphics stack in general, but it still has a ways to improve. Our similar set of results for the NVIDIA side with the open-source Nouveau Gallium3D driver will be out in a few days. Also worth noting is that at this time only the R300 class Gallium3D driver is enabled by default in Mesa (and most Linux distributions) while the R600 classic Mesa driver is still used rather than its newer Gallium3D driver. Based upon the faster performance, minimal regressions (just Nexuiz with Evergreen ASICs and a few other areas), the superior architecture (support for state trackers, etc), better OpenGL 2.1 support, and other benefits, hopefully in Mesa 7.11 we will see R600g by default and it being utilized by most Linux distributions upon their next major update.

      • VIA KMS + TTM/GEM Driver Moves Along Without VIA

        At the end of December we reported on the 3Dfx KMS Linux developer working on VIA code to provide kernel mode-setting support for VIA’s IGPs in the Linux kernel and thus TTM/GEM memory management support too. This is after VIA had promised to deliver this support (along with Gallium3D support) in 2010, but failed miserably. This code though is now moving along but without any support for VIA.

      • VIA Releases The Dual-Core Nano X2 CPU

        For the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, VIA Technologies has just released their Nano X2 Dual-Core CPU.

      • There May Finally Be Better ATI Linux Video Playback

        It would be really great if they would implement NVIDIA’s VDPAU within their driver, but that’s perhaps too optimistic.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

  • Distributions

    • A Tale of the Synaptics “ClickPad”

      PCLinuxOS – works, including left/right buttons and tapping, but to actuate the buttons you have to touch only the very corners at the bottom of the ClickPad. In particular, if you try to click at the point where the “dot” for the buttons is marked on the ClickPad, it will not work. I believe that it works here because PCLinuxOS is still using a somewhat older version of X and synaptics, such as the version which worked on Ubuntu 10.04.

    • DouDouLinux: A Linux Distribution Especially Designed For Kids

      DouDouLinux is, maybe, the greatest aid for parents who don’t have enough time to spend with their children while they have fun on the computer but who also don’t want to come back and find out that their operating system kind of crashed or that some important document was accidentally erased. That’s because you don’t have to install DouDouLinux to be able to use it, all you have to do is boot it from an USB stick (and when booting you can choose if you want the changes to be saved or not) or a CD/DVD and the kids don’t have to log in to be able to play!

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

      • Managing Yum Plugins

        If you’re using Fedora, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), CentOS, or a number of other RPM-based systems, you are probably very familiar with using Yum to install packages and update your system. It’s very useful out of the box, so to speak, but it can be extended to add even more functionality.

      • Tuning Fedora for SSDs

        A while back, I found myself reading a generic PC magazine in a waiting room, and they had an article on Tuning SSDs for Windows 7. It made me wonder what the Fedora equivalent would be. So, I asked my friend and Red Hat coworker Jeff Moyer about it. Jeff knows more about SSDs in Linux than anyone else I know, he does most (if not all) of the testing of SSDs for Red Hat’s storage team.

    • Debian Family

      • DACA Could Mean Fewer Bugs in Debian

        Every piece of software written has bugs. From the insignificant to the showstopper, bugs are there despite the herculean efforts of developers. But thanks to a new Debian project, many previously undetected bugs may finally get squashed.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Cult of Ubuntu aka CoU Launched

          CoU is the best place to find beta testers for your applications and concepts. One of the best way is to connect with your users directly. You can publish your own write-ups and blogs on CoU without any editorial intervention. Either send your write-ups to the editor or send an account request and we will create an account for you to publish your content at your will. If you think there is better way of doing this, let us know and we will do what ever is possible.

        • What Is Cult of Ubuntu aka COU?
        • This Just In: “Ubuntu Myopia Continues…”

          Ever on the watch for mainstream media articles that don’t quite *get* Ubuntu, yet another questionable article catches my eye.

          Short summary: “Ubuntu is ruining the kernel. It’s buggy and a copycat of OS X. No wonder it has so many bugs: It’s based on Debian UNSTABLE. Even Dell is dropping it. And to top it off, Ubuntu is switching to Unity and not making it easy for users to opt out. Their existing user base is no longer the focus.”

        • First peek at ratings n’ reviews in Ubuntu Software Centre

          The Ubuntu Software Centre in 11.04 Natty Narwhal will comes with support for application ratings and reviews.

        • Raising Caine

          Caine is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu 10.04 for forensic scientists and security-conscious administrators. Poised to do battle against IT ne’er-do-wells, Caine has a comprehensive selection of software, a user-friendly GUI, and responsive support.

        • Ubuntu Software Center Getting Search Suggestion

          Aside from Unity, the Software Center is one of the main areas of development in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narhwal. It is getting a lot of new features like support for user ratings, reviews etc. Another feature – search suggestion – has quietly landed in trunks.

        • Ubuntu isn’t replacing OpenOffice.org with LibreOffice … yet

          It looks as if some folks got a little bit carried away with the news yesterday that the next version of Ubuntu, 11.04, will feature LibreOffice instead of OpenOffice.org.

          Because, actually, that’s not exactly what’s happening. Yet.

          On Monday, Linux Magazine’s Amber Graner got it right, when she reported that Ubuntu Desktop Engineer Matthias Klose announced that “LibreOffice would be included in the Alpha 2 Natty Narwhal release for evaluation and possible inclusion into the final Ubuntu 11.04 release.”

          Somehow, by the next day, the news was mistakenly distorted to headlines in more than a few outlets that stated “LibreOffice Replaces OpenOffice In Natty, PPA For Lucid And Maverick,” or similar. It hit the Twittersphere, and I even re-tweeted the news myself. And off it went, with a lot of folks, including me, thinking that LibreOffice had indeed made the Ubuntu big-time.

        • LibreOffice: Ready for Liftoff

          LibreOffice, the Oracle-free fork of the OpenOffice office suite, may, or may not, end up being the default office suite in Ubuntu, but its first release is almost here.

          Before getting into that though, there have been rumors running around that Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, had already committed to using LibreOffice in its next release, Ubuntu 11.04. True, Ubuntu has always been interested in replacing OpenOffice with LibreOffice Indeed, Mark Shuttleworth told me back when LibreOffice was starting to break away from OpenOffice that, “The Ubuntu Project will be pleased to ship LibreOffice from The Document Foundation in future releases of Ubuntu. That’s not the same thing though as saying it’s going to ship in Ubuntu 11.04.

        • Natty nm-applet improvements

          In light of the discussion I’m referring to above, as well as a number of bugs that have been reported against network-manager-applet, I’ve been working on fixing these issues, including making the animations work again, re-adding icons for wireless signal strength and fixing the icons when connected to VPNs.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • MoonOS is a complete, Ubuntu-based distribution featuring the LXDE and Enlightenment 17 desktop managers and imaginative, original artwork.

            moonOS is a complete, Ubuntu-based distribution featuring the LXDE and Enlightenment 17 desktop managers and imaginative, original artwork.

            A project created and designed by Cambodian artist Chanrithy Thim, moonOS is intended as an operating system for any desktop, laptop or virtual machine.

          • Bodhi Linux hits Alpha 4, gets ace new look

            I’ll cut to the meat of this review right away: Bodhi Alpha 4 has had a dramatic makeover. The new default E17 theme – called A-Nogal-Bodhi – gives the whole desktop a lighter, less oppressive feel than the black and green ’80′s terminal’ theme previously used.

            The icon set has been changed to the popular Faenza set.

          • moonOS 4 “NEAKE” Released With File Hierarchy System, AppShell

            moonOS is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. moonOS 4 codenamed “NEAKE” has been recently released, replacing E17 with GNOME for the main edition and is currently available for 32bit only. While it provides a new stylish interface by default, the most interesting new feature in moonOS 4 is the use of a new File Hierarchy System which aims to make the filesystem more user-friendly. Read on!

          • Lubuntu Screencast: Share/Backup packagelist

            In this Screencast I show you how to share and backup your packagelist of currently installed applications. This is especially usefull if you want to share you list of applications between different computers or you want to have a backup in case you reinstall Lubuntu

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • mPlayer — the cross-platform, open source media player — ported to webOS

        Sure, the webOS App Catalog lags behind the markets of other mobile OSes — but the homebrew community continues porting apps to HP/Palm’s platform. One of the more recent additions is mPlayer, the cross-platform open source media app.

      • Checking out JQuery Mobile, Part 1
      • Android

        • Verizon preps Motorola Droid Xoom tablet, HTC Thunderbolt phone

          Motorola’s first Android tablet will be called the Droid Xoom, and will ship in February with an external 4G LTE modem, say industry reports. Meanwhile, photos have leaked of a purported HTC Thunderbolt 4G phone due to be announced by Verizon next week at CES, and more evidence piles up for Honeycomb being Android 2.4 instead of 3.0.

        • What Are Your Six Go-To Android Apps?

          If you’re the proud new owner of an Android-based smartphone or tablet you might be digging through the Market wondering what you should be installing. So I thought we’d take this chance to tap the collective wisdom of the Linux Mag audience and see what everyone is using on their phones and tablets.

        • Android tablets, smartphones to rule at CES

          Android is set to “explode” at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, with smartphones and tablet computers including a newly revealed HTC Shift 4G phone for Sprint and a four-inch smartphone/tablet hybrid from ViewSonic. Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless is cutting the price of the Android-based Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet by $100 to $500, says an industry report.

        • Best Android apps

          Smartphones are now an essential business tool and there are hundreds of applications to choose from

          Smartphones are a key part of any businessperson’s gadget lineup and Android-based phones are among the most popular. We look at some of the best Android applications on offer.

        • Motorola finally breaks up. What now?

          Motorola is no longer one company. A long-in-the-works breakup of the smartphone and telecom equipment maker finally took effect Tuesday morning — probably to the delight of frustrated institutional shareholders like corporate agitator Carl Icahn.

        • Amazon’s Disruptive Android App Store Now Open To Developers — Full Details

          First, some background for those who don’t follow Android too closely. All Google-endorsed Android devices ship with the Android Market, along with a suite of other Google-made applications like Gmail. Android Market is a lot like Apple’s App Store with a few key differences: it doesn’t have an approval system, so developers can quickly submit and iterate on their applications. It also tends to have a lot of junky applications that Apple would reject — things that crash on launch on certain devices, or apps with that occasionally have features that don’t work as expected. While Google’s terms do require descriptions to be accurate, the general attitude is to let the market decide what works, and it surfaces the top rated applications (most of the time) while letting the junk sink.

        • 40 percent of new users are choosing Android

          More than 40% of U.S. customers who purchased smartphones over the last six months have chosen Android-based phones.

        • Galaxy Tab review: Android hitchhiking its way to tablet success

          The Samsung Galaxy Tab is one of the first high-end Android tablets from a mainstream hardware vendor. Available with 3G connectivity from a wide range of carriers, the Tab is arguably the vanguard of the legion of Android tablets that are expected to arrive in the coming year.

    • Tablets

      • Android At CES Means Bad News For Apple iPad

        All this is about to change. Android is coming to strike back. CES will witness a whole new species of Android Tablets competing with the iPad. Just the way Android has beaten the iPhone in the mobiles space, Android is all set to beat iPad in the tablet segment.

      • Asus slips out keyboard equipped Android tablet

        Asus has outed its Android tablets at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), including one that cannily solves the problem of typing quickly on a touchscreen: it has a drop-down physical Qwerty deck.

      • See If You Can Spot The Problem With Microsoft’s Tablet Strategy

        Earlier today, computer maker Asus kicked off the Consumer Electronics Show a day early by announcing four upcoming tablet computers. Three of them run Google’s Android operating system. One runs Windows 7. See if you can guess which one is the outlier:

        * Eee Pad MeMO: starts at $499

        * Eee Pad Slider: starts at $499

        * Eee Pad Transformer: starts at $399

        * Eee Slate: starts at $999

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source community building: a guide to getting it right

    A diverse developer community is critically important to the long term viability of free and open source projects. And yet companies often have difficulty growing communities around their projects, or have trouble influencing the direction of the maintainers of community projects like the Linux kernel or GNOME. Sun Microsystems and AOL are prominent examples of companies which went full speed into community development, but were challenged (to say the least) in cultivating a mutually beneficial relationship with community developers. There are many more examples – but often we never even hear about companies who tentatively engage in community development, and retreat with their tail between their legs, writing off substantial investments in community development. Xara, for example, released part of their flagship software Xara Xtreme for Linux as open source in 2005, before silently dropping all investment in the community project in late 2006.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Add-ons Review Update – Week of 2011/01/04

        Summary

        * These posts written every 2 weeks explain the current state of add-on reviews and other information relevant to add-on developers. There’s a lengthy overview of the Add-on Review Process that should be read as a general guide about the review process.
        * Most nominations are being reviewed within 10 days.
        * Most updates are being reviewed within 5 days.

      • Game On Submissions: 1 Week Away

        Friendly reminder: the finish line for the Game On competition is just one week away on the 11th of January, 2011! If you want to build a game for the whole wide Web to use, this is your chance to make that game. We’re beyond excited to see what the possibilities will be, so we’re building a gallery to show your games to the world! This gallery will be opening soon after the contest ends.

      • How to develop a HTML5 Image Uploader
  • SaaS

    • Behind the Cloud Redux

      Behind the cloud it is still just computers – not the Great and All Powerful Oz – (and data, data connections and us IT professionals), but there is certainly a lot more that needs to be considered before connecting to it.

    • Cisco, Cloud Computing and Open Source Software

      The move to cloud-based infrastructure is one that is set to dominate networking discussions in 2011. One of the leaders in the move to cloud is networking giant Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), which provides servers, routing and switching infrastructure that enables cloud computing deployments.

      At this stage of cloud development and deployment, standards are still emerging, which is where open source software may be able to help.

  • CMS

    • Friendly and powerful: Drupal 7

      We are proud to present to you our best work yet – Drupal 7, the friendly and powerful content management platform for building nearly any kind of website: from blogs and micro-sites to collaborative social communities.

    • Drupal7 Released with Revamped UI, Semantic Tech, and More

      Drupal, the popular open source content management platform that powers websites like WhiteHouse.gov and NPR Public Interactive, got a fresh new look this week. It took three years, and the effort of thousands of contributors from more than 200 countries, but Drupal 7 is now available for free download at the project’s website. More than just a facelift, this release sports several important new features.

  • Healthcare

    • Reporters Not Welcomed At Corporate-Sponsored Rick Scott Inaugural

      Reporters did manage to catch up with the woman who briefly heckled Scott during the inaugural speech. Her basic complaint appears to be the fact that Scott would prefer to blow off his singular achievement as a human being — the record-setting fraud penalty that Columbia/HCA had to pay after systematically bilking Medicare under Scott’s leadership.

  • Business

    • Getting Down to the Business of Open Source

      All-in-all, “The Business of Open Source” offers some useful stuff to get the mental wheels turning after the holidays at the start of what will doubtless be another exciting and successful year for open source in business.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • FSFE Newsletter – January 2011

      Get active: Help with Euro 2012 championship

      Help us gathering information about government’s Free Software usage. This information helps us to evaluate the current situation and of course it will decide who will be the European Free Software champion in 2012. Add the information on our website before March 25 and it will influence the next matches, add information continuously and it will help Free Software activists all over the world.

  • Project Releases

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open-source animation movie comes to India

      The techies in Kerala have one more feather to add in their cap. India’s first open source movie concept is getting ready under Chamba Swathanthra Movie Project, started in Kerala.

      Open source films (also known as open content films and free content films) are films which are produced and distributed using free and open source software methodologies. Under this concept, the movie and its sources are made publicly available via an online download or by other means that are either free or with a cost that covers only reasonable reproduction expenses. About 20 people have already registered to film an open source animation movie in the website www.chambaproject.in and are working to make possible the open source movement in the Indian movie sector.

    • What you see is FOR THE WIN.

      I posted to foundation-l concerning the other way to get more people editing Wikipedia: the perennial wish for good WYSIWYG in MediaWiki.

      [...]

      Eight times the number of smart and knowledgeable people who just happen to be bad with computers suddenly being able to even fix typos on material they care about. Would that be good or bad for the encyclopedia?

    • THE OPEN SOURCE VENTURE PROJECT (Picture This)

      Here’s how it works:

      1. An Internet site that allows people to search on an address to view a picture of that location.
      2. An address specific self-service advertising system (akin to adwords and earlier work on context sensitive advertising).
      3. A cell phone application that makes it easy for anyone to take a digital picture and upload it to the site.

      The twist in this approach comes in how it is built at the software level. It provides a way for tens of thousands to contribute and earn nearly all of the revenue it generates.

    • Open Hardware

  • Programming

    • PHP floating point bug crashes servers

      The bug will cause the PHP processing software to enter an infinite loop when it tries to convert the series of digits “2.2250738585072011e-308″ from the string format into the floating point format.

Leftovers

  • Why ProPublica is publishing web ads — and what that means for the nonprofit outfit’s funding future

    Check out ProPublica’s website today, and you might notice — along with blog posts, donation buttons, links to special projects, and the kind of deep-dive investigative journalism that the nonprofit outfit is celebrated for — a new feature: advertisements. Starting today, the outfit is serving ads on its site to complement the funding it takes in from foundation support and reader contributions, its two primary revenue streams.

    “This has been something we’ve been expecting to do for some time,” Richard Tofel, ProPublica’s general manager, told me in a phone call. “It was a question of when.”

  • Real, Live Practice Babies

    Once upon a time, infants were quietly removed from orphanages and delivered to the home economics programs at elite U.S. colleges, where young women were eager to learn the science of mothering. These infants became “practice babies,” living in “practice apartments,” where a gaggle of young “practice mothers” took turns caring for them. After a year or two of such rearing, the babies would be returned to orphanages, where they apparently were in great demand; adoptive parents were eager to take home an infant that had been cared for with the latest “scientific” childcare methods.

  • To tweet or not to tweet: How companies are reining in social media

    Social media like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn enable ordinary people to do international live broadcasting. It’s little wonder companies worry about the potential damage to their brand or reputation from wayward tweeting employees, and I am told many a celebrity’s agent has considered adding a “no drinking and tweeting” clause to his contract. Here’s a look at how some companies are writing (and rewriting) their social media policies to deal with the risks they face.

  • Science

    • Philosophy Lives

      Philosophy, Étienne Gilson observed, “always buries its undertakers.” “Philosophy,” according to Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, in their new book The Grand Design, “is dead.” It has “not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics, [and] scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.” Not only, according to Hawking and Mlodinow, has philosophy passed away; so, too, has natural theology. At any rate, the traditional argument from the order apparent in the structure and operations of the universe to a transcendent cause of these, namely God, is wholly redundant—or so they claim: “[Just] as Darwin and Wallace explained how the apparently miraculous design of living forms could appear without intervention by a supreme being, the multiverse concept can explain the fine tuning of physical law without the need for a benevolent creator who made the Universe for our benefit. Because there is a law of gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist.”

    • The Next $100 Billion Technology Business

      That headline is the cover language from the current issue of Forbes magazine – for a story I wrote about DNA sequencing and, particularly, about Jonathan Rothberg and his new Personal Genome Machine.

      What we are declaring in this story is that DNA sequencing, the technology by which individual letters of genetic code can be read out, could be the basis for a $100 billion market that encompasses not only medicine, where sequencing is already being evaluated to help cancer patients, but also other fields like materials science, biofuels that replace petroleum, and better-bred crops and farm animals. There are even synthetic biologists who are talking about using biology to make buildings and furniture based on the idea that this will be better for the environment than current plastic and concrete.

    • The Central Dogma of molecular biology

      This video captures the beauty of “The Central Dogma” of molecular biology, which is that “DNA makes RNA makes protein”. (For you twitter fiends, this translates as “DNA>RNA>protein”.)

      This nicely done animation describes how proteins act similarly to “molecular machines” to copy, or transcribe, specific genes in the DNA of every cell into small, portable RNA messages, how those messenger RNAs are modified and exported from the cell nucleus and finally, how the RNA code is translated to build proteins — a process known as “gene expression.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Why does health care in Cuba cost 96% less than in the US?

      Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — When Americans spend $100 on health care, is it possible that only $4 goes to keeping them well and $96 goes somewhere else? Single payer health care [government-funded universal health insurance] advocates compare US health care to that in Western Europe or Canada and come up with figures of 20–30% waste in the US.

      But there is one country with very low level of economic activity yet with a level of health care equal to the West: Cuba.

  • Europe

    • Five years with EU under focus of ministers, diplomats

      Full European Union membership is still a strategic goal for Turkey, several ministers and top diplomats have maintained, despite admitting making significant errors along the way, including a decrease in public support for this bid.

      On the second day of a week-long annual gathering of ambassadors, the Foreign Ministry hosted on Tuesday a session titled “A balance sheet on the fifth year of our EU membership process: Negotiations and reform process.”

    • China Promises Support for Euro Zone

      China’s leadership has launched a charm offensive aimed at Europe. The country’s vice premier, who is visiting Spain and Germany this week, has promised that Beijing will continue buying up government debt to support the troubled euro zone. He has also called for more bilateral trade.

    • ‘Federalism now’, Northern League insists

      Northern League leader Umberto Bossi on Wednesday insisted that the government must pass its pet federalism project by the end of the month.

      Bossi, Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s key ally, said the week of January 17-23 would be crucial to get the bill out of a parliamentary commission and on the way to final approval.

    • Expenses watchdog reminds MPs of level of public mistrust

      The watchdog introduced last year to govern MPs’ expenses today hit back against threats that it could be reformed or even scrapped with a poll reminding parliament of the depth of public mistrust they still face in the wake of last year’s expenses scandal.

      David Cameron issued a warning before Christmas that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority should reform and improve the way it works after complaints from every corner of the House of Commons of slow payments, troublesome IT systems and unfair rules. He set an April deadline for Ipsa to improve or face being forced to change, meaning it could even be scrapped.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Court OKs searches of cell phones without warrant

      The California Supreme Court allowed police Monday to search arrestees’ cell phones without a warrant, saying defendants lose their privacy rights for any items they’re carrying when taken into custody.

    • The conviction of Michael Thompson

      Does warning other drivers about speed cameras constitute obstructing a police officer?

    • Rise of Tibetan soft power

      Many Tibetans these days are rightfully feeling dismayed, believing that their culture and identity is increasingly being eclipsed and their hopes for a resolution to the Tibetan question dashed by the rise of China.

      But hold on a minute. Though China is already on the path to being an undisputed economic and military power, Tibet has also become a superpower in its own right.

  • Cablegate

    • US Gov’t Strategy To Prevent Leaks Is Leaked

      I didn’t realize that you needed to use such professional help to figure out if you had a disgruntled worker on your hands. Isn’t it the role of managers themselves to have a sense as to whether or not their employees are disgruntled? Though, I’m somewhat amused by the idea that the US government thinks that a psychiatrist or sociologist can accurately pick out who’s likely to leak documents.

      Not that it’s a bad thing to try to figure out if there are disgruntled workers or to make sure secure systems really are secure. I’m all for that. I just think it’s a bit naive to think any of this will actually prevent future leaks. You just need one person to get the info out, and there’s always someone and always a way to do so — as demonstrated by the fact that this document itself “leaked” so quickly. It seems a better situation would be to focus on making sure that any damage from such leaks is minimal.

    • Bradley Manning’s Trial – Update

      The army court-martial defense specialist and Bradley Manning’s attorney David E. Coombs published his Motion to Dismiss Manning’s case for Lack of Speedy Trial in his blog Army Court Martial Defense dot Info.

    • Shirky squares the circle

      There is even a delightful irony in his prescription. Among the groups Mr Shirky proposes that American embrace is WikiLeaks. His essay was evidently penned before the site was cursed by American officials for releasing hundreds of US diplomatic cables onto the net. America can benefit from promoting social media, he concludes, “even though that may mean accepting short-term disappointment”. If only he had known what was to come.

    • U.S. tells agencies: Watch ‘insiders’ to prevent new WikiLeaks

      The Obama administration is telling federal agencies to take aggressive new steps to prevent more WikiLeaks embarrassments, including instituting “insider threat” programs to ferret out disgruntled employees who might be inclined to leak classified documents, NBC News has learned.

      As part of these programs, agency officials are being asked to figure out ways to “detect behavioral changes” among employees who might have access to classified documents.

    • Israel said would keep Gaza near collapse: WikiLeaks

      Israel told U.S. officials in 2008 it would keep Gaza’s economy “on the brink of collapse” while avoiding a humanitarian crisis, according to U.S. diplomatic cables published by a Norwegian daily on Wednesday.

      Three cables cited by the Aftenposten newspaper, which has said it has all 250,000 U.S. cables leaked to WikiLeaks, showed that Israel kept the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv briefed on its internationally criticized blockade of the Gaza Strip.

      [...]

      Palestinians say impoverished Gaza remains effectively a “prison” sealed off by Israel, and have called for an opening to allow normal trade and other links with the world.

    • From Judith Miller to Julian Assange

      Today it is recognized at the Times and in the journalism world that Judy Miller was a bad actor who did a lot of damage and had to go. But it has never been recognized that secrecy was itself a bad actor in the events that led to the collapse, that it did a lot of damage, and parts of it might have to go. Our press has never come to terms with the ways in which it got itself on the wrong side of secrecy as the national security state swelled in size after September 11th. (I develop this point in a fuller way in my 14-min video, here.)

      In May of 2004, the New York Times, to its great credit, finally went back and looked at its coverage of the build-up to war in Iraq. (Shamefully, NBC and the other networks have never done that.) But the Times did not look at the problem of journalists giving powerful officials a free pass by stripping names from fear-mongering words and just reporting the words, or of newspapers sworn to inform the public keeping secrets from that same (misinformed) public, of reporters getting played and yet refusing to ID the people who played them because they needed to signal some future player that the confidential source game would go on.

      In its look back the Times declared itself insufficiently skeptical, especially about Iraqi defectors. True enough. But the look back was itself insufficiently skeptical. Radical doubt, which is basic to understanding what drives Julian Assange, was impermissible then. One of the consequences of that is the appeal of radical transparency today.

    • Prentice was ready to curb oilsands: WikiLeaks

      Former environment minister Jim Prentice told U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson that he was prepared to step in and impose tougher regulations on the oilsands if the industry damaged Canada’s green reputation, according to a cable released by WikiLeaks.

    • WikiLeaks: the latest developments

      Iran’s president ‘slapped’ by the head of the revolutionary guard, a German CEO blasts French industrial espionage and the latest on WikiLeaks

    • December 2010 Web Server Survey

      Open source HTTP accelerator Varnish gained 545k hostnames. A recent blog post on the varnish site identifies WikiLeaks as one particularly prominent user of the software, with both cablegate.wikileaks.org (performance graph) and warlogs.wikileaks.org (performance graph) served by Apache via Varnish.

    • Is Openleaks The Next Haystack?

      As everyone who’s even half-awake knows by now, a bunch of people who used to work on Wikileaks have got together to work on Openleaks. From what I hear, Openleaks is going to be so much better than Wikileaks – it will have no editorial role, it will strongly protect people who submit leaks, it’s not about the people who run it, it’ll be distributed and encrypted.

    • WikiLeaks: cables indicate Japan asked USA for help fighting Sea Shepherd

      The Wall Street Journal notes that cables released by WikiLeaks show the Japanese government repeatedly asked the US for help against anti-whaling activist organization Sea Shepherd (covered many times on BoingBoing in the past). These repeated requests for assistance included asking the US to revoke the group’s tax-exempt status as a nonprofit organization.

    • Why the U.S. Shouldn’t Prosecute Assange–For the U.S.’s Sake, Not His

      6. If the government can pressure private companies to silence Wikileaks, it can silence anyone.
      Senator Lieberman’s staff seemed to apply some governmental pressure to Amazon, which found a violation of its broadly worded “terms of service” to remove Wikileaks from Amazon servers. (The administration has not applied similar pressure, to my knowledge.) Paypal and Mastercard refused to process donations, applying a standard far lower than the standards applying to government.

      I agree with those who view these moves as an Internet “tax on dissent.” To put this in perspective, what if Amazon interpreted its terms of service to kick controversial politicians off its servers? What if Paypal stopped processing payments to controversial newspapers, political blogs, or … Klansmen and flag burners? What if Mastercard, after receiving calls from a Senator, refused to process donations to the Palin or Romney campaigns, while processing donations for the Obama reelection? The affected speakers would be harmed and would have no legal means to defend themselves by challenging the government’s attempt to silence them.

      The New York Times has raised concerns about these actions: “A handful of big banks could potentially bar any organization they disliked from the payments system, essentially cutting them off from the world economy.”

    • EFF at SF4D January Meetup: Changes At S.F. City Hall & the Wikileaks Fallout

      EFF staff activist Rainey Reitman will be participating in a panel discussion on WikiLeaks.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Happy New Year from The North Sea. Or, Secrecy By Complexity

      The dramatic fall of Mexican oil production, and its largest field Cantarell, is often cited as a signature example of the problems facing Non-OPEC supply. Since the production highs of 2004-2005, Mexican production has lost over 800 kbpd (thousand barrels per day) which is fairly dramatic for a country that was producing around 3.4 mbpd as recently as 5-6 years ago. But as accelerated as these declines have been in Mexico, another oil producing region has seen even quicker declines.

    • The Decline of Available Energy to Society

      Quantification of the decline of available energy, which results from the increased cost of energy extraction, is difficult.

    • Dead birds in Louisiana; dead fish in Maryland, Brazil and New Zealand

      After reports over the weekend of thousands of dead birds falling from the sky in Arkansas and around 100,000 dead fish washing up on the shores of the Arkansas River, more mysteries abound with hundreds of birds dying in Louisiana, dead fish in Maryland, dead sardines on Brazil’s beaches, and hundreds of snapper floating in New Zealand waters.

    • China Lights, Global Floods, Australian Coal

      One detects a slow, ironic hooray welling up from the climate change community this week because after a year of intense weather that’s devastated food crops worldwide now an epic flood in Australia threatens to cripple the production of coal. Accounting for 30% of global energy supply–and ready to go higher as oil supply declines–coal was thought to be permanently relegated to the 19th century only a decade ago. Now, however, coal is the go-to energy source of the developing world, the 5 billion people now passing through the gears of industrialism. And Australian coal, both thermal and metallurgical, is called upon heavily to feed this soaring demand. But as flooding in Queensland, Australia’s northern coal country, spreads over an area as large 350,000 square miles, what will happen to coal production and the export of coal?

    • Ratcliffe coal protesters spared jail sentences

      Environmental activists who planned to shut down a coal-fired power station near Nottingham were spared jail today after a judge declared they acted with “the highest possible motives”.

      The campaigners were convicted of planning to break into Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in what would have been one of the most audacious protests by green activists in the UK.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • In The ‘Net Delusion,’ Internet Serves Oppressors

      From bloggers of Myanmar’s 2007 Saffron Revolution to tweeters of the protests that followed Iran’s 2009 election, the Internet has proven itself to be a tool in promoting change and democracy in the world.

      But Evgeny Morozov, author of The Net Delusion, argues that it doesn’t always work out that way.

    • Privacy vs. Security vs. Anonymity

      First, let’s establish some basic definitions. For the purpose of this blog post, the following definitions will suffice (I’ll address alternative definitions later):
      • Privacy: having control over one’s personal information or actions
      • Security: freedom from risk or danger
      • Anonymity: being unidentifiable in one’s actions

    • French Minister Uses Non-Existent Benefits to Sell LOPPSI 2 Legislation

      LOPPSI 2, the surveillance legislation in France, has been making headlines recently given that the legislation has re-entered political debate in recent weeks. The Interior Minister reportedly was out in the media telling everyone that one of the benefits of LOPPSI 2 is that it would stop cell phone theft in its tracks. Critics point to one tiny little problem with that sales-pitch – it doesn’t exist in the legislation in its current form and blocking stolen phones is already possible.

    • EU ratifies UN Convention on disability rights

      Following formal ratification, it is the first time in history the EU has become a party to an international human rights treaty – the United Nation’s (UN) Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. The Convention aims to ensure that people with disabilities can enjoy their rights on an equal basis with all other citizens. It is the first comprehensive human rights treaty to be ratified by the EU as a whole. It has also been signed by all 27 EU Member States and ratified by 16 of these (see Annex). The EU becomes the 97th party to this treaty. The Convention sets out minimum standards for protecting and safeguarding a full range of civil, political, social, and economic rights for people with disabilities. It reflects the EU’s broader commitment to building a barrier-free Europe for the estimated 80 million people with disabilities in the EU by 2020, as set out in the European Commission’s disability strategy (IP/10/1505).

    • Virginia DMV Revokes World’s Greatest License Plate

      A man in possession of the world’s greatest license plate has lost his battle with the Virginia DMV, who ridiculously claim it encourages oral sex with kids instead of just cannibalism. Here’s their predictably unfunny response to the funny plate.

      According to poster WHOWANTSBEEF at Reddit, he’s the owner of the infamous “EATTHE Kids First” license plate floating around the internet for years. Unfortunately for him, someone complained his plate was advocating something beyond hilarious cannibalism.

    • Court: No warrant needed to search cell phone

      The next time you’re in California, you might not want to bring your cell phone with you. The California Supreme Court ruled Monday that police can search the cell phone of a person who’s been arrested — including text messages — without obtaining a warrant, and use that data as evidence.

      The ruling opens up disturbing possibilities, such as broad, warrantless searches of e-mails, documents and contacts on smart phones, tablet computers, and perhaps even laptop computers, according to legal expert Mark Rasch.

    • Consultation on the cabinet manual: have your say on a document being described as the first step to a British written constitution

      Views are being sought by January 10th on a document being described by some as the first step towards a British codified constitution. The 150-page draft cabinet manual, drawn up on 14 December, aims to set out how the UK is governed. While the cabinet secretary, Gus O’Donnell, has stressed in his introduction that the manual is intended only as a source of information and guidance on governance, the draft document has instigated a debate over Britain’s constitutional status in part thanks to the Cabinet Secretary himself proclaiming in interviews before it was issued that it was an eagerly awaited stage on the road to full codification. The political and constitutional reform committee is now heading a consultation on the manual, with responses to be submitted at 10am on Monday 10th January if possible, and otherwise by Friday 28th January. This is a chance to help broaden the debate around a document that could prove the foundation to a written constitution for Britain.

    • Boston Tor Hackers, join us Saturday, January 15th

      We’re holding a Tor hackfest on Saturday, January 15th. The bulk of the Tor developers are in town and coming to this event.

    • The EU Must Stop Hungarian Net Censorship

      La Quadrature du Net joins the blackout operation launched by Hungarian civil rights activists who oppose the newly enacted media law. Everybody is invited to join the blackout and contact their representatives to oppose any kind of censorship in the European Union.

      This law imposes a stringent regulation of printed, audiovisual and online media which severely undermines the democratic foundations of the Hungarian republic.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Untrustworthy Computing

      This is the latest example of how that other OS hides an endless stream of problems in its bloat. This is about displaying an image on your computer screen and compromising security. It is another example of how an OS designed by salesmen to sell in a desktop monopoly was not designed to deal with a hostile environment on the network and should be avoided like the plague.

    • Paying through the nose for last-gen DSL

      If you haven’t yet taken a look at what’s happening in Canada to DSL pricing “you may want to, given that if North American incumbent ISPs get their wish — all broadband customers continent wide could be looking at paying an arm and a leg for aging DSL technology”.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Jeff Koons Sends Cease-and-Desist to SF’s Park Life Store

      Among the items San Francisco gallery and store Park Life stocked for holiday gifts was that most innocent of objects — a bookend in the shape of a balloon dog, made by a company based in Toronto. But right before Christmas, Park Life co-owner Jamie Alexander received an unusual Christmas present.

      Lawyers for artist Jeff Koons sent a letter asking Park Life to stop selling and advertising the balloon dog bookends, return them to some mutually agreed upon address, tell Koons how many have been sold and disclose the maker of said bookends — a fact, Alexander said, that could easily be found via Google.

    • Copyrights

      • Open Letter by the Brazilian civil society to President-elect Roussef and Minister of Culture Ana Buarque de Hollanda

        The Points of Culture, the Digital Culture Forum, the Forum of Free Media, the development of free software, the initiative to revise the copyright law, the rejection of irrational proposals for the criminalization of the network, the construction of a Bill of Rights for the Internet (the Marco Civil) and the rejection of ACTA are well-known examples of this inclusive policy, and they are based on the guarantee of the right of access to the network and to knowledge, enabling a fertile and innovative environment for cultural production.

      • EFF Wins Landmark Ruling Freeing Promo CDs for Resale

        The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has shot down bogus copyright infringement allegations from Universal Music Group (UMG), affirming an eBay seller’s right to resell promotional CDs that he buys from secondhand stores and rejecting UMG’s attempt to claim that a sticker on a CD created a license agreement forbidding resale.

      • Copy some webpages, owe more than the national debt

        The Internet Archive’s “Wayback Machine” is a set of snapshots of the Web over time. It’s a wonderful way to delve into the past (see Ars in its 1999 black-and-green glory to learn why “ERD Commander turns me on”), but it’s only possible thanks to rampant copying—and the potential copyright infringement that goes along with such copies. Thanks to US law, a successful copyright suit against the Wayback Machine could put the nonprofit Internet Archive on the hook for up to $150,000 per infringement.

        Multiply that $150,000 by the number of individual pages in the Archive and you quickly run into some serious damages.

      • ACTA

        • FFII requests proof ACTA’s criminal measures are essential

          The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) requests proof that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement’s criminal measures are essential. The EU can only harmonise criminal measures if approximation of criminal laws and regulations of its Member States proves essential to ensure the effective implementation of a Union policy. The same is true for harmonisation by way of trade agreement. The FFII also requests documents which discuss the proportionality of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement’s criminal measures.

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